Sunday, 13 November 2011

The lessons that cancer taught me

I thought I would write one more blog, just to update everyone on how I am and to put down in writing some things I’ve learnt over the last 18 months during this amazing journey.
So, here are the lessons that cancer taught me..........
• Never Give Up
There were times when I wanted to give up, when I honestly felt like I couldn’t keep going with the treatment or cope with what I was going through, but each time I pulled myself together and kept going. There were a few times I wanted to give up on the treatment (as the surgery removed the cancer the rest of my treatment was to give me a better chance of the cancer not returning but I may have been fine without) but I didn’t, I kept going and powered through and am so pleased I did now.

• Believe in yourself
Having cancer has definitely taught me how strong I can be and that I’m capable of so much more than I would have ever thought. I coped with all the physical side effects (I will never complain about having a cold again!!) as well as the emotional side better than I expected, which I am really proud of, but at the same time.........................

• It’s ok to find things hard
I’m proud of how well I coped, but it’s ok to have bad days and get a bit down about everything I’ve been through, even now. I won’t let it keep me down for long or get the better of me, but sometimes being a little sad or overwhelmed by the fact I had cancer is ok and a good reminder of how lucky I am to be well again now and how important it is to live my life to the full because........................

• Life is short
You never know what will happen in life or what/who you might lose so it’s important to appreciate every minute you have and to live your life the best you can making yourself and others as happy as possible. I’ve always been pretty laid back, but now more than ever I won’t let the small, unimportant things in life get to me.

• My family, boyfriend, and friends are amazing!!
The constant support and love I received was overwhelming, sometimes from the most surprising sources. I had so much practical and emotional help from those around me and even at my lowest points, I felt truly blessed by how good my life is.

• You have to learn to love your scars
Having your face cut open is always going to be hard, especially as a 23 year old woman. My scars and changing body have been hard to deal and the way I look is often a stark reminder of having had cancer. Even though people tell me all the time that they don’t even notice my scars I am very aware of them and they are a constant reminder of what I’ve been through. However, I am learning to be proud of them and to show them off along with the story of what I’ve been through, they make me unique and I like that.

• It’s possible to still speak and eat even with a tongue made out of your leg!
This point is pretty straight forward, I just think it’s amazing what they can do and how little it really affects my everyday life!!

• There are some truly amazing people in this world
I have met some amazing people through having cancer who have been a real highlight of the last 18 months. I was in hospital with some other young people fighting cancer who really taught me the meaning of strength and who never gave up even at the worst times. Will, one of the guys on the ward was such an incredible inspiration to me. He was fighting a really rare form of cancer and there wasn’t much they could do for him, yet he was always so positive, always laughing and joking around and always there for me ready to cheer me up if I needed it. Unfortunately Will lost his fight with cancer earlier this year, He didn’t deserve this, but I am determined to live my life to the full for him. I’ve met plenty of other amazing people through the Teenage and young adult team at the hospital who have been through cancer and they always encourage me and remind me that it can be a positive thing as they are some of the most incredible people I know.
• Even cancer can be funny sometimes
Don’t get me wrong, cancer is a horrible disease that devastates lives, but there were plenty of times when I had to look at the funny side of things and laugh about what i was going through. If I didn’t laugh, I just would have cried. Whether it was seeing the funny side to my consultants badly phrased comments or playing ‘would you rather have cancer or....’ with Will (we both agreed we’d rather have cancer than fight Voldemort!) or our arguments about who was more ill and should get up to make the drinks, laughing about the situation was my way of coping!

• There are always positives to come out of a bad situation.
Here are a few positive things I’ve taken away from this experience;
 Having learnt how strong I can be
 The friends I've made
 Being able to appreciate the good things in life so much more
 Becoming even closer to Kev than ever
 Learning the true meaning of good friends
 Beating cancer!!!

I’m sure there is plenty more I could say and I’m only a year on since treatment and I’m sure I’ll continue to learn to more and more. I’m feeling so well now and so exciting for what the rest of my life might bring and all the things I’ve yet to achieve. I want to see far more awareness of cancer and support for younger people diagnosed and I want to encourage people that you can take whatever life throws at you, just be determined and keep smiling.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

It's nice being well again!!

Hello again everyone! I realise it’s been a while since I last updated this so thought I would say hi. It’s now nearly 8 months since my operation and 5 months since all my treatment finished. It all feels like a life time ago to me and I’m still feeling so lucky to be over the other side of it all now. It was a really rough 3 months, but I’m glad that’s all it lasted. I’m on to having 2 monthly check ups with Mr Brown and 4 monthlys with the oncologist. At my last appointment Mr Brown was really pleased with everything. He really feels that they made the right decision with the treatment they gave me, he’s sure the cancer is definitely all gone and feels there is very little reason to worry about it ever returning. It’s amazing news to be told and I’m just so happy to have beaten it! He’s also really pleased with the function I have left in my tongue, especially my speech, which is pretty much back to normal now, at least you would never guess I’m actually missing 2/3 of my tongue!!
Otherwise, life is getting back to normal, spending time with my friends and Kev. I’m having a big party at the end of march to celebrate my birthday and being better!! I’m going back to work at the beginning of April so that’s very exciting!!
I can’t thank everyone who has supported me over the last year enough. It’s a horrible journey to go on, but all of you have made it so much easier!!


Friday, 21 January 2011

Race For Life

Ruth Collington is fundraising for Cancer Research UK

Here is my fundraising page for the race for life 2011!! Please sponser me as it's such a worthwhile cause!!!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Tick tick tick tick....

So, it’s been a while since I wrote this blog, but that’s a good thing, It’s because there hasn’t been much to report! I am recovering well, my mouth is slowly healing, still waiting to have my wisdom teeth out on February 1st, but hopefully that will be a walk in the park compared to everything else!! I’m still quite tired and weak, but it is improving and I’m still pushing myself to build my strength up. My neck is still quite stiff and sore as is my leg, but i’m getting nice and used to my new tongue so you take the good with the bad!
Had a lovely christmas and new year in Thirsk, I love spending time with my family! I’m back in Liverpool now slowly trying to rebuild my life, it feels very strange but it’s nice and feels very good to be back amongst my friends!
I won’t lie, life after cancer is really tough. From diagnosis to surgery to treatment was all so fast I barely had time to take it all in and was so busy fighting so hard for my life that it wasn’t really until everything finished that it all hit me. It was such a huge thing to go through physically and emotionally it’s left me feeling a bit battered. It’s a really scary experience that makes you realise how fragile life can be. It sounds like an obvious thing to say, but you really don’t expect to get cancer, especially not at 23, and especially not a type you’ve never even heard of before. Having treatment and fighting the cancer was the easy part in some ways, now all I can do is wait and see what happens, it’s out of my hands, another young person living with cancer recently described it as being like ‘you’re waiting for a bomb to go off’ and he’s so right. You’re pretty much left on your own and it can be really hard. I’ve been really lucky to have the support of the Teenage and young adult team at clatterbridge who have been really supportive and have made a huge difference, but a lot of the time you feel like no one quite understands.
There are still a lot of positives to take away; I’m alive, that’s a pretty good one! My treatment is over and the cancer has gone. I’m really grateful for all these things, but when you’ve been so worried and ill for so long it’s hard to get used to the idea of being ok.
I don’t want to seem negative and just focus on the bad, but it’s important that people realise that this battle doesn’t finish just because the cancer has gone. So many people have told me that this is often the hardest part emotionally and that’s definitely been true for me, but I’m still here and I’m still fighting!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Another little update!!

Hello!! I’m not sure if anyone is still looking at this? But I thought I would do an update! It’s been a good 7 weeks since my treatment finished, I’m not sure where the time goes!! I’m doing well, my mouth has nearly almost healed, I still have a few problems at the back of my mouth which need to be sorted by the removal of my wisdom teeth!! Unfortunately I can’t have this done until February, but after that my mouth should be totally better, I cannot wait!! Otherwise I’m doing well, I’m still quite tired, but it is getting better. I’ve been enjoying lots of time recuperating and resting, spending lots of time at home in Thirsk. I have been back to Liverpool a bit and have thoroughly enjoyed catching up with friends! My friends have been such a great support the last few months, I’m very grateful to you guys!! and of course its been great to spend time with Kev properly again, he’s wonderful!!
Life after cancer is hard, I have felt a little left on my own at times. You go from being constantly fussed over and looked after by nurses and doctors to being left to fend for yourself at home which can be quite daunting. When I was having my treatment it was something to focus on and I felt like I was doing something positive to help, but now I just have to sit and wait and see what happens which is hard. I want to be doing something, but there is nothing I can do!
The teenage cancer trust have been fantastic and I’m so glad I found them. There workers have kept in touch checking up on me and I went for dinner with them and lots of other young people affected by cancer. It was great to meet up with other people who understand what I’ve been going through and to catch up with some of the guys I was in hospital with!!
Thanks again for everyone reading this and everyone who has supported me!
Much love xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Getting there slowly but surely

Hello everyone! Sorry, it’s been a while since I last blogged! Not much has been going on to be honest, I’ve just been at home relaxing and getting better. My Mouth is slowly getting better and less sore. Just practicing eating again now. Its funny how your tongue forgets how to work properly when you don’t use it for a while! But, I’ll enjoy re-training it I’m sure! Still got to be careful about the types of things I eat, got to still be pretty bland, but it’s getting better bit by bit! It has been very frustrating not being able to eat well, but I’ll be making up for it in no time!
Otherwise I’m doing well. I’m very tired most of the time, not sleeping very well, despite the sleeping tablets, but hopefully that will get better as I start to recover. I’m just in pain and generally a bit too uncomfortable to sleep through the night. Not to mention needing to wee at least 5 times a night!?! (I’m not even sure what that’s about!) Hopefully it’ll all start to feel better soon and I’ll be able to come off the pain killers as well, which I’m sure are making me sleepy during the day too.
Back to see my consultant on Wednesday for a check up. Nothing major, he just wants to make sure I’m doing ok and healing as well as I should be.
Not much else to report, I’m just chilling in Thirsk, not really doing anything so not really got anything to tell. Missing Liverpool and all my friends so much, can’t wait to be back with you guys joining in on all the fun!
It is a strange feeling now that all the treatment is over. I'm not quite sure what to do with myself. It's been such a short, but intense experience it's hard to get your head around. Think I'm still trying to process everything at the moment, I definitely still have my moments of remembering what I've been through and just being like 'I can't believe that happened?!?'
Will try and keep this updated more, but for now take it as no news is good news!!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Treatment totally finished!!!

3 Months ago it felt like this day would never come, but here I am, treatment finished!! After completing my radiotherapy my consultant decided that I’ve been through enough and the last cycle of chemo would probably just make me worse. After seeing me and knowing I’d been in hospital for a while due to my sore mouth he said that the benefits of that last chemo weren’t worth making me feel worse. I’m really really happy that it’s all over, I was willing to do anything to fight this, but as long as they’re happy I definitely feel like I’ve done enough! I’m not sure my mouth and skin can take anymore.
It’s also so nice to be out of hospital! Spending a few days at Kev’s to spend time with him (he took the week off work!) and to be closer to clatterbridge just in case i need anything, then I’m going up to Thirsk to get looked after by my mummy and daddy for a while! Not sure how long, but will probably be there quite a bit on and off over the next couple of months, not planning on going back to work for a while really, it will take a long time to get back to normal. But I’m really glad that all I have to focus on is just resting and getting better now. Have various appointments to see various consultants over the next few weeks and months to make sure everything is healing well and that there are no signs that the cancer has stuck around!
I do feel like things are starting to heal now, everything seems to get better every day. I can’t wait till I’m eating normally again, but for now the pain is pretty well controlled so it’s just a case of waiting! I recovered so fast after my operation, I plan on doing the same with this!! I’ve spent the last 2 months constantly watching cookery shows so I have plenty of ideas up my sleeve for when I’m better (not to mention having a boyfriend who is a very impressive chef (he’s currently making me yummy, but necessarily plain, chicken soup) who has many ideas for things to make me when I’m better, I’m very lucky!)
It does feel a little surreal to be finished, I was so focused on the treatment that I didn’t really think about it coming to an end. It kind of came as a shock. When you’re having the treatment you at least feel so proactive, like you’re doing something good to help what’s happening, but now it’s sort of just ‘wait and see’ which is a little frustrating, but I’ll keep focused on the little things and am gonna soon throw myself into some fundraising and some work to help promote the importance of being aware of cancer!!
Will still keep everyone updated on how I’m getting along and what the docs have to say etc. I’m so grateful for everyone who has been following this an sending their wishes and prayers etc! I feel very blessed! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx